Why Every Interaction Matters in the Experience Economy

Originally Published on Sprinklr on September 16, 2015 by Estebán Contreras
Why Every Interaction Matters in the Experience Economy
Take a quick look at the apps on your phone and you’ll notice more than a few similarities. Whether they are productivity tools or mobile games, your favorite apps are likely well-designed, easy to use, and consistently effective. They just work.
The best of the best apps available today are all developed by companies obsessed with understanding – and exceeding – the expectations of their users. While iOS and Android users can choose from over 1.5 million apps, most of us use only a few dozen apps, and each of them offers a fantastic user experience – making our lives a little bit easier.
But we humans can change our minds pretty quickly. We abandon websites, apps, and shopping carts without thinking twice about it. According to surveys by Akamai and Gomez.com, approximately half of web users expect a site to load in 2 seconds or less, and they tend to leave if it takes over 3 seconds. That’s just load time; we take the same approach with anything else we pay for, from fashion trends to subscription services.
The vast amount of information and tools we have access to, thanks to the Internet, is mind boggling. We are now accustomed to researching, shopping, and communicating while on the go, and this has drastically changed our expectations not only online, but offline as well.
Over most of the last two centuries, our society purchased extracted and manufactured goods. In the last 20 years, the Internet has accelerated and elevated our expectations, enabling us to expect much more: the ongoing delivery of positive experiences.
Why Every Interaction Matters in the Experience Economy2
As modern consumers, we expect more than just high-quality products and services. We want more than clear branding, clever taglines, and simple purchasing options. What we want is a ridiculously good customer experience.
With so many options these days, a great experience is simply expected. We care about the details of all things tangible and intangible, from how a product is made and what the brand stands for to how easy it is to purchase from. We especially like it when an experience is truly memorable, creating a more personal connection.
In fact, a survey by IBOPE/Zogby International found that 83% of 2,000 adults surveyed are willing to spend more on a product or service if they feel a personal connection to the company. Moreover, 59% of consumers are willing to switch to a new brand/service if they’re reported to have better customer service.
That’s why brands like Apple, Tesla, The Honest Co., Airbnb, and Etsy are the kinds of companies people will tell their friends about.
Why Every Interaction Matters in the Experience Economy3
It’s quite easy to talk about “customer experience.” As a marketer and technologist, I’ve been talking about this topic for quite some time. Whether it is consistency across screens, seamlessness across operating systems, or context across touch points, the fact is that designing and managing customer experiences is incredibly hard. It’s not easy because everyone’s standards have been raised.
If you have an app, it better be as good as Uber’s and Airbnb’s. If you have a return policy, it better be as good as Amazon’s and Zappos’.  If you have a connected product, it better be as good as Sonos and Nest.
It’s not that consumers are perfectionists. It’s just that we have more choice than ever before. With choice comes power, and empowered consumers act under the premise that every single interaction matters. The journey from awareness to loyalty is linear only in the sense that you can’t be loyal to something you did not know existed; other than that, the buying process has become fluid, complex, and kind of perplexing.
Social media has changed how we learn about new products as well as how we form opinions, seek support, give feedback, and recommend a brand to our friends. For brands, social media is now essential for driving impressions and engagement, and its long-term value goes way beyond mass media and one-to-one conversations. It’s really about protecting and enhancing the customer experience.
Why Every Interaction Matters in the Experience Economy4
The customer experience, as perceived by consumers, is ultimately about the value they receive. Such value is the net summation of all interactions across the consumer life cycle.
We human beings are relational people, so we build mental models every time we experience something, and we then relate to things based on those mental models. This happens with everything we do for the first time, from flying first class to buying a home.
Every time someone experiences a different dimension of a company, they take note. Just like an awkward conversation makes you want to run and hide, a poor customer experience makes you leave a store – or close a browser window.
The experience economy in which we live in today is one where every customer matters, every interaction counts, and context is king. And that means it is imperative to have a strategic, operational, and technological infrastructure that helps your company make sense of the complexity. With a customer-first approach and the right infrastructure in place, it becomes easier for the entire organization to earn, know, and serve customers – and even show them a little love – day after day, month after month, year after year.
About the Author: Estebán Contreras is the Director of Digital at Sprinklr. He is also the author of Social State. You can find him on Twitter @socialnerdia.